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Prayer book owned by Mary, the Catholic Queen of Scots, to be auctioned off


Courtesy of Christie's

Zelda Caldwell - published on 06/09/20

The illuminated Book of Hours is one of only 14 surviving manuscripts belonging to the Catholic queen before she was executed by order of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.
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An illuminated prayer book that once belonged to the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots will be put on the auction block, and is expected to fetch almost a half a million dollars according to a statement released by Christie’s.

Queen Mary became the ruler of Scotland as an infant when her father, King James V,was killed in a battle against the English in 1542. The prayer book was a given to Mary Stuart sometime between 1558 and 1561 by her great-auntLouise de Bourbon during the time Mary served as queen consort of France alongside her husband Francis II.

Public Domain

Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), by François Clouet

“This is a fleetingly rare opportunity to acquire a lavishly illustrated royal prayerbook that was owned and affectionately inscribed by one of the most intriguing figures in Scottish and European history: Mary Stuart, at a time when the Queen of Scots had already become Queen of France and was soon to meet her tragic fate,” said Eugenio Donadoni, Christie’s Specialist in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, London.

Mary met her tragic end in England, where she had sought a safe haven from her cousin, Elizabeth I, who then kept her as a royal prisoner for 18 years. As a Catholic — she was considered by many of her faith to be the legitimate heir to the throne in England — Mary was seen as a threat to the regime. While  attempting to facilitate her own escape, she unwittingly became embroiled in a Catholic plot to assassinate the Protestant queen. And in 1587 she was executed by order of her cousin Elizabeth.

The prayer is one of only 14 surviving manuscripts belonging to the Catholic queen. The book’s miniatures were illustrated by Master of François de Rohan, “one of the most sought-after artists of the court of King Francis I (r. 1515-1547),” according to Christie’s.

The auction will take place on July 29, 2020 in London.


Read more:
How Mary, Queen of Scots, fits into the Catholic history of Britain

Catholic historyEnglandScotland
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